Headline: Between classical and critical geopolitics in a changing Arctic

Puzzled by how geographical changes in the Arctic might cause changes in state behavior the authors of this article have been inspired to return to the roots of geopolitical reasoning. By combining insights from the intellectual roots of the geopolitical tradition with empirical data on geographical changes as well as policy changes in the Arctic today, we investigate the degree to which geopolitics, in the sense of geography influencing politics, is still a useful approach in the discipline of International Relations (IR). In limiting our primary focus to the state level, and investigating the period since the turn of the millennium, this article seeks to develop new knowledge concerning if, how, and to what extent geography matters in international politics. Our empirical investigation indicates that geographical changes in the Arctic have indeed had an effect on power relations among several states. Overall, this article shows that geography is an important factor in IR in the sense of enabling or empowering state actors. However, while it appears that physical geography is a possible factor in the cases analyzed to explain changes in identified power potentials, it does not always account for these changes on its own. Economic, political, legal, and historical factors also play a role in the observed power shifts.

Publication Year
Publication Type
Academic Articles

Wegge, N., & Keil, K. (2018). Between classical and critical geopolitics in a changing Arctic. Polar Geography, 41(2), 87-106. doi:10.1080/1088937X.2018.1455755.

Projects involved
Arctic Ocean Ecosystems - Applied Technology, Biological Interactions and Consequences in an Era of Abrupt Climate Change (ArcticABC)